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NBA GameDay Predictions, Mon, Dec 16

A night after letting a big lead slip away against one of the league’s top teams, the Detroit Pistons will get another delivery of humility when they travel to Indiana to face the NBA-best Pacers on Monday. The Pacers showed their depth Friday by surviving an off-night from leading scorer Paul George, who was limited to a season-low 10 points in a 99-94 win over Charlotte. Unlike the Pistons, Indiana knows how to close out a game – it is 18-0 when leading after three quarters and 10-2 in games in which it has trailed at halftime — outscoring opponents by an average of 6.1 points in the third quarter.

The Los Angeles Clippers play at home tonight for the first time in 15 days – but the sight of the San Antonio Spurs isn’t exactly the best welcome-home gift. San Antonio swept the Clippers out of last season’s playoffs in the second round and has won four consecutive games as it enters this season’s first meeting between the clubs. Los Angeles went 4-3 on a seven-game road trip and has won eight of 10 at home. The Spurs have been one of the best teams in the NBA over the first quarter of the season and the Clippers are anxious to see where they rank and it’s going to feel a lot like last year.

The Minnesota Timberwolves will have an even better shot to beat Boston for the second time this season when they visit the Celtics on Monday. Minnesota cruised to a 106-88 home win over the Celtics on Nov. 16 and is looking to creep back above the .500 mark in the return engagement. Boston continues to lead the weak Atlantic Division despite being three games below the break-even mark but is just a few weeks away from possibly having point guard Rajon Rondo on the court.

Monday Night Football Predictions: Ravens at Lions

Two teams clawing to stay in their respective playoff races square off Monday night when the Detroit Lions host the Baltimore Ravens. Both are bordering on must-win situations, as the Lions enter the weekend tied with Chicago atop the NFC North and the Ravens are tied with Miami for the last AFC wild card. Chicago’s and Miami’s big wins Sunday also play into it.

The Lions do have some wiggle room by virtue of two head-to-head wins over the Bears, but their margin for error became slimmer when they lost 34-20 in blizzard-like conditions in Philadelphia last week. Bush sat out that game after aggravating a calf injury during warmups – a huge blow on a day when passing was nearly impossible – but is expected to be back on the field against Baltimore.

Flacco needs 262 passing yards to become the first Ravens quarterback with five consecutive seasons of 3,500 yards and while the Lions defense has been solid against the run, last week notwithstanding, it is susceptible to the pass.

MNF Predictions: Cowboys Freeze in Chicago

The margin for error is slim for the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears, who meet Monday night with their playoff hopes hanging in the balance. The host Bears can’t afford a third straight loss, as they trail Detroit by a game in the NFC North and lost both head-to-head meetings with the Lions.
The Cowboys have won two straight and are tied with Philadelphia atop the NFC East. The Cowboys bolstered their playoff chances with a 31-24 win over Oakland on Thanksgiving, but they haven’t had much luck in December – a month when quarterback Tony Romo is 11-15 as a starter. The Bears won 34-18 last year in Dallas, intercepting Romo five times and taking two of them back for touchdowns. The Cowboys are going to run and the Bears are having trouble defending it but, it’s going to be cold and Dallas sucks in the cold.

Mon, Nov 25, Gameday Predictions: MNF, NFL, NBA

On the heels of a dazzling Sunday Night game that saw the New England Patriots come from waaaaaay behind to to take the OT win over the Denver Broncos (sorry, sad Mannning…) comes what looks like a dog of a Monday night game between the Forty-Niners and Redskins.

A pair of teams led by underachieving quarterbacks look to avoid a third consecutive loss when the Washington Redskins host the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night. Washington’s Robert Griffin III and San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick burst onto the NFL scene a year ago and gave defenses fits but haven’t enjoyed the same success this season. The 49ers are on the fringes of the NFC playoff picture, and the Redskins are in last place in the NFC East. I expect a mess of a game but with these outcomes:

The Chicago Bulls weren’t doing all that great even WITH Derrick Rose, so now that their star is out for another full season with an injury to his right knee are the Bulls hopes shot? Not really.
But a trip to Utah to face the woeful Jazz couldn’t come at a better time for them. The Bulls have lost three straight but things have been even worse for the Jazz, who have lost six straight and own the worst record in the NBA. The Bulls biggest strength isn’t Rose, it’s their defense which will put some hurt on the Jazz tonight.

Mon, Nov 18, 2013 Predictions: NFL, NBA

The victories keep piling up for the Carolina Panthers, who will go for their sixth consecutive win when they host the New England Patriots on Monday night. New England is coming off its best offensive performance of the season in the mauling of the Steelers, getting 432 yards and four touchdown passes from Brady and 100-yard games from tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Pats D on the other hand has been rocked by season-ending injuries to Pro Bowl nose tackle Vince Wilfork and middle linebacker Jerod Mayo. Carolina’s defense, led by tackling machine Luke Kuechly at linebacker, has surrendered only 11.4 points during the winning streak while the Panthers scored at least 30 points in four straight games prior to last week’s 10-9 win at San Francisco.

Mon, Nov 4, 2013: NBA, NHL

In ice fighting news, the Ducks wrap up eight-game road trip at Rangers. This is the second and final game of the season between these cross-conference clubs. The New York Rangers will look to avenge a 6-0 loss at the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 10. Anaheim has earned at least a point in each of its past three games against New York (2-0-1) and New York’s youth and up and down play won’t get them the win.

We know it can’t last but nobody saw the Philadelphia 76ers starting the season 3-0, including wins against the Heat and Bulls. Monday they will try to keep the ‘L’ column empty when they host Golden State. The odds have to be way in favor of the Warriors taking this one but the crazy youth on the 76ers are playing with pride. And I have to say, considering the great effort the 76ers have showed this far, it sucks that their seats are still empty. Total bullshit for a city that has such a rich basketball history.

MLB: Tigers at Twins

Monday will give Tigers ace Justin Verlander another chance to revert to that ace-like form that he’s been searching to find consistently this year. He’ll take on fellow righty Mike Pelfrey in the series opener at Target Field.

And for Detroit, everything will feel like failure if they don’t get back to the World Series.

With the American League Central title in their sights, the Detroit Tigers can trim their magic number in half on Monday, but they are looking weary across the board. Verlander (13-12, 3.66 ERA) fell to 1-4 in his last nine starts after allowing three runs on four hits in seven innings against Seattle on Wednesday and Miguel Cabrera was given the day off on Sunday to rest his sore groin and is listed as day-to-day.

Pelfrey (5-13, 5.34) lost his third straight start Tuesday, when he allowed three runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings against the White Sox. The 29-year-old hasn’t won since yielding three runs in 6 2/3 frames against the Tigers on Aug. 20. Although the victories have been scarce, Pelfrey has permitted only four homers in his last 10 starts and 13 on the season

Verlander was blitzed in his last meeting with Minnesota on Aug. 22, permitting six runs on 10 hits in seven frames of a no-decision.

And starting pitching has not been a strength of the Twins this year, entering Monday’s series opener with a Major League-leading 552 innings of relief work this year.
[copy assembled from and other sources]

MLB: Rangers at Rays

A pair of struggling teams still holding down the American League’s two wild-card spots meet when the Texas Rangers visit the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday to begin a four-game series. The Rangers have dropped six in a row and gone 2-11 this month to fall into a tie with the Rays at 81-67, one-half game ahead of the Cleveland Indians.

The series will certainly have a postseason feeling, but Rangers manager Ron Washington said before Sunday’s loss to the A’s that he’s not worried about potential playoff implications.

On the mound for the Rangers will be  Matt Garza (9-5, 3.79 ERA). Garza is winless in his past four starts and lasted only four innings against the Pirates on Wednesday.

Also struggling of late is the Rays’ starter Alex Cobb (8-3, 3.08).  Cobb has gone four games without a victory, allowing 11 runs in 25 1/3 innings while receiving a total of only 10 runs of support, though he  is 5-0 in 11 starts at home.

Tampa Bay needs one victory to clinch its sixth consecutive winning season.
[copy assembled from and other sources]

MLB: Diamondbacks at Dodgers

The Dodgers have lost four consecutive games after suffering a three-game sweep against Cincinnati but still possess an 11-game lead over Arizona in the National League West race.

Los Angeles were a remarkable 38-14 entering Sunday night since last playing the D-backs, while Arizona has been treading water with a 25-26 record.

The Dodgers’ Ricky Nolasco (12-9, 3.26)  seeks his seventh consecutive victory when Los Angeles opens a three-game series against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.

The Diamondbacks are nine games behind in the NL wild-card race and their odds continue to decline with just 20 games remaining but will look to Randall Delgado (4-5, 3.69 ERA) tonight. Delgado is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two career outings against the Dodgers, with the loss occurring July 8 when he gave up three runs and a season-worst 11 hits in six innings.

Delgado will most likely need run support against the potent L.A. offense and can look to slugger Paul Goldschmidt who has hit six home runs at Dodger Stadium, his most of any stadium outside of Chase Field. He has a .348 average in Los Angeles and hits .326 against Dodgers pitching overall.

Surprisingly though, Arizona’s offense has let them down lately,  scoring just eight runs while splitting a four-game series with San Francisco and has touched home plate only 24 times over the last 11 games.

[copy assembled from and other sources]

MLB: Rangers at Mariners

While the Seattle Mariners have no realistic chance of entering the post season, they aren’t rolling over and calling it a day. Especially when they can significantly improve their final standing in the AL West by picking up some games on the frontrunner.

The Texas Rangers had won 19 of 23 before dropping back-to-back road contests against the Chicago White Sox over the weekend, but they will carry a 2 1/2-game lead in the American League West into Monday’s three-game series at the Seattle Mariners.

Texas has had a tough time with Seattle, going 9-7 in the season series after losing two of three at home to the Mariners earlier this month.

The Mariners have scored one run or fewer in four of the last six games but will be counting on Kyle Seager to help revive the offense against the Rangers.  Seager has dominated Texas this season. Seager is batting .409 in 66 at-bats against Texas this year with four home runs and 13 RBIs. He has a .458 on-base percentage and a .758 slugging percentage in 16 games vs. the Rangers.

The Mariners will send to the hill Joe Saunders, who is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in four starts this season against the Rangers. He won his last outing against Texas allowing two runs — one earned — in 6 2/3 innings in Arlington.

Texas will counter with Travis Blackley, who was signed by the Mariners in 2000 as an amateur free agent and made his debut against the Rangers in 2004. Blackley made his Texas debut Tuesday allowing two runs in four innings on 66 pitches against his previous team, the Astros.

Oh, but did I mention that despite Seager’s success against the Rangers in general, he is hitless in five career at-bats against Blackley…

[copy assembled from and other sources]